1 September 2006

Kenya: Queries Raised Over Kiruki Probe Report

Nairobi — The Kiruki commission might not have answered all the queries on the Armenian brothers and a possibility is emerging that the inquiry could have been part of a high-level cover up thought out before the team was appointed.

Observers are raising questions over the manner in which the inquiry was conducted and whether the failure to call for some documents and compel witnesses to testify as provided for in law could have been engineered by the Government's reluctance to have the truth known.

Since March, when the flamboyant brothers addressed journalists at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the Government appeared defensive or reluctant to deal with their presence in the country.

Persistent questions were met with curt answers such as; Investigations are on. Mercenary claims are rumours. The issue has been politicised and sensationalised.

A striking failure on the part of the Kiruki commission is that it did not investigate the Standard raid - which triggered claims by Opposition politician Raila Odinga that there were mercenaries in the country.

Although the raid on the media house - the first ever in independent Kenya - was not part of the terms of reference handed to the commissioners, President Kibaki had directed that they investigate "any other matter incidental to or connected to the activities of the brothers."

Gigiri divisional police boss Patrick Lumumba pointed the inquiry in the direction of the raid, while testifying, when he produced as exhibits deadly arsenal, special communication equipment, camouflage gear, and a number of video tapes recovered from the brothers' Runda residence.

Among these were balaclavas and reflective jackets similar to those worn during the raid. The only difference between the jackets produced in evidence and those used in the night raid was inscription QRU (quick response unit) on the back. Those found with the Armenians were bare but the colour was the same, orange.

Also on his list of exhibits was an identity card, whose colour resembled those of police certificates bearing the names of A.M Jcennes DCP (deputy commissioner of police) and showing a signature by a Mr J. M. Kamau. It was later identified as a fake police ID.

He also had 129 tapes labelled Line Up, Mwingi, KTN/2001, Budalangi, Ringera, Bosire, Nyeri and Machakos ASK Show, but their contents were not shown.

Standard Group lawyer Chacha Odera made applications to inspect the tapes to find out whether they belonged to KTN but was told by chairman Shedrack Kiruki; "They have been returned to police custody for safe keeping."

Repeated attempts by the lawyer to inspect them failed and the door was shut on the possible connection between the Armenians and claims that they were involved in the Standard raid.

The commission did not invite Nairobi provincial CID boss Isaiah Osugo to testify.

When Mr Odinga made the mercenary claims through the media, the police requested him to record a statement, which he initially declined to do. But he later held a meeting with Police Commissioner Maj-Gen Hussein Ali and was directed to record a statement with Mr Osugo, then Nairobi deputy provincial CID boss.

Mr Odinga did not only record a statement on what he knew about the Artur brothers but he also gave a map to their Runda residence.

The statements and maps, presumably in the custody of Mr Osugo, were never produced as evidence. At the time, Mr Osugo also recorded statements from businessman Raju Sanghani, the tycoon who admitted as having invited the two Armenians to Kenya.

The commission did not also ask for the testimony of Mr Odinga, the man who broke the Artur story.

When Mr Odinga recorded his statement, CID director Joseph Kamau said the MP's claims were "lies and utter rubbish."

And at the inquiry, Mr Kamau through lawyer Jane Ondieki, told the commission that he was kept in the dark as the investigations by Mr Osugo, his junior progressed.

According to those familiar with the Kiruki team findings, the commissioners found that Maj-Gen Ali acted in a manner suggesting he did not have faith in the CID director and that he breached the command chain.

The commission did not call up Maj-Gen Ali, to find out the results of the investigations and neither did it hear from Mr Kamau although the law gave it powers to hear sensitive evidence privately.

Mr Sanghani said it was he who introduced Mwingi North MP Kalonzo Musyoka to the Armenians but the commission did not invite Mr Musyoka to testify.

Called to testify

For the public record, State House official Stanley Murage on March 20 denied ever having met the Armenians or even facilitating a meeting for them at State House, allegations made by official Opposition chief Uhuru Kenyatta who too, was not called to testify.

When media reports indicated that the Armenian connection in the country was Ms Winnie Wangui Mwai, State House responded through a statement clarifying that the surname Mwai was not to be used when referring to the civil servant, now in suspension.

Others were quick to deny the existence of Kensington Holdings Ltd, a company said to be co-owned by Ms Wangui and the Artur brothers.

Ms Jane Njeri Joram - a senior official at the office of the registry of companies - testified and said Kensington Holdings existed and that its listed directors were Ms Wangui, the Artur brothers, Mr Julius Maina and Mr Alois Omita.

None of the directors were called to testify - at least those who were in Kenya during the time of the inquiry - but Mr Omita through lawyer Gilbert Mungu denied involvement with the company.

The investigators at the Artur brothers residence found two AK47 assault rifles, a magazine that can hold 100 rounds of ammunition, four Ceska pistols and more than 200 rounds of live ammunition.

Evidence given to the commission by police firearms experts showed that the guns were in a serviceable condition and were usable.

The commission never got to find out why and how the Artur brothers had acquired the firearms and whether a Kenyan - Ms Shirfana Alarakiya - who was arrested on the night police raided the Runda residence could be compelled to testify.

Ms Alarakiya could have told why the Armenians needed three bullet proof vests, four holsters, 20 reflective jackets, 24 hoods, two pairs of jungle boots, two jungle T shirts, four jungle jackets, two jungle trousers, three jungle scarfs, one black mask and an assortment of fake GK, civilian and diplomatic number plates, Very High Frequency (VHF) radios, motorola communication handsets, closed circuit television cameras, two Russian and two Kenyan passports.

Robbing vehicles

Had Ms Alarakiya been innocently caught up with the wrong people at the wrong time - as the case may turn out to be - she would have had an opportunity to show her innocence at the inquiry.

Mr Lumumba said some of the chassis numbers of vehicles found in Runda had been tampered with. Police identified one - a top-of-the-range BMW four-wheel-drive station wagon - as having been stolen in Britain, while another was claimed by a businessman who said it was stolen at gun point.

Who could have been working with the Armenians in robbing vehicles, defacing chassis numbers, filing of gun serial numbers and making fake registration plates?

Copyright © 2006 The Nation. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.